08 August 2009

There are no 'great' generations

Nicely put by Terence Blacker today

He points out the bizarreness with which society (or certain parts of it) venerate those who fought the First World War as the 'greatest generation' and look down on the rest of us born since the war (essentially all of us now)

It is of course, much to do with guilt, I remember great-grandparents going on about the period between the wars - it didn't help that the suffering wasn't just limited to the ten years of conflict, but to the Great Depression as well, it's not surprising the people of today, who have never been without electricity, water and food, feel a pang of guilt when looking at those who lived through decades of horror

But of course, that's all it is - were they 'greater' than us? Not really, no more than Victorians or Georgians were greater than them, or indeed, us - it's just militarism and nostalgia

They were just ordinary people, like pretty much all of us, in a situation they had no control over - the vast majority of those killed were under 25, a fact usually ignored by the media when they attack the youth (just as they forget it is always the youngest who die in battle, yet always the youth who are destroying society) - and primary documents show that they were no more angelic than any other generation, they were just regular young men, who had to be sacrificed before they were worth anything to the people who idolise them so

Which is what Harry Patch himself said - the reason why Harry Patch was so important, in my view, was that he couldn't be used by the right-wing zealots - he was the only one left with any authority on the issue, and the only one who could get away with taking a 'Blackadder goes forth' attitude to it without being labelled a coward (or Marxist)

He could not be ignored, and unlike the members of the younger generations who view the first world war as futile, he could not be shouted down by the vile right-wing press

It's a bit like you can only shut a feminist up by getting a woman to argue the point - were Harry Patch supporting all the usual bollocks that comes out of the Mail or Express it would be old hat - but here was a man helping to support the view held by many people who would be shouted down in the public arena with highly emotive sentiments

To some this is the pacifist 'narrative' - the narrative of course that is completely opposed by the biggest newspapers in the country...

It riles them to hear someone who is supposed to bemoan social decay and hark back to a greater time of Empire to spout this 'leftist' nonsense, he has much more respect and weight than them, and of course, he lived through it - his was a voice of common sense that had no romanticism attached to war

It's a shame that we have lost this great voice, but hopefully his views will help prevent too many people from falling for the militaristic 'narrative' too soon - or else we'll end up right back in 1914

1 comment:

  1. Nicely put, beware the right wingers who will argue that to oppose war is to not 'support the troops' - because of course supporting the troops is sending them to unwinnable, pointless wars to die

    These idiots are just donkeys...led by political donkeys, wearing blindfolds